Winston Churchill, when accused of being drunk by a female, fellow politician, famously replied, 'Indeed, Madam, and you are ugly - but tomorrow I shall be sober.' Churchill almost certainly was sober the next day, but was he in need of a simple detox or did he have a bigger problem?
From fictional characters such as Bridget Jones and Homer Simpson, to many celebrity hard line drinkers, there is an indulgent tolerance of people getting completely wasted on alcohol. And if you can't cope with the alcohol pace, you're usually disparagingly classified as a 'lightweight' - it's no wonder so many people find it necessary to have a sober October and a dry January.
But is it good for us?
There is a school of thought that believes the monthly detox actually makes a drink problem worse. Having proved to themselves (and others) that they can survive a whole month without alcohol, the person with a serious alcohol problem can go into complete denial that they ever had a problem at all.
Many people are under the impression that alcoholics are stereotypical tramps or bag ladies that trail the streets begging for money to buy the next drink, but you'd be surprised how many alcoholics are in good jobs and disguise their problem well. In the 21st century, the functional alcoholic is far more commonplace than the bag lady.
So how do you know if you or a family member just needs a quick detox, or if there is a bigger problem?
Some of the warning signs that someone may have an alcohol problem:
⇒ They seem to be able to 'handle' their drink much better than they used to.
⇒ They always seem to be in a hurry to get that first drink in and they are starting to drink much earlier in the day.
⇒ They always have explanations for drinking saying they 'need' a drink for some reason such as it's been a hard day, they've had a lot of stress, they've got problems...
⇒ They don't seem to be able to remember parts of the events of the previous night and even have complete memory 'blackouts'.
⇒ They sneak in a couple of drinks ahead of everyone else, drink faster than everyone else and are often the one that wants to continue drinking after everyone else has had enough.
⇒ They have financial problems, work problems or family problems due to their drinking.
⇒ A close friend or family member has mentioned their drinking to them and other family members
⇒ They've been driving over the alcohol limit.
⇒ They get very uncomfortable if there is no drink available and may even sneak off from a social event to get a drink and then come back to the gathering.
⇒ They've been drunk for more than two days at a time.
⇒ They feel guilty about their drinking and get depressed or anxious after a big bout, and regret the things they said the night before.
⇒ They make promises to themselves and others to cut down, and then can't keep their promise.
⇒ They get the 'shakes' after a night of drinking and have to have a 'hair of the dog', tranquilizer, or other medicine to cope.
If you think that you have an alcohol problem or that one of your family members does, the Patient QI Alcoholism strategy has some useful information on therapies and treatments that can help. Talk therapies provide great support when dealing with the problem. Lifestyle changes and nutritional support can make a big difference to how quickly the process shows results.